Doctor says controlling gun talk leads to censorship - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Doctor says controlling gun talk leads to censorship

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Upstate Rep. Joshua Putnam says the doctor's office is no place to be asked about your guns.

But at Palmetto Pediatric, Dr. Deborah Greenhouse says it can be an invaluable part of routine checkups. She's seen what happens when kids don't get the message.

"Three-year old, 5-year old sibling," explained Greenhouse. "A gun was laying around. One picked it up, shot and killed the other."

"Just like I would talk to a family where maybe the parent is a smoker and would be exposing the child to secondhand smoke, it's the same thing here," she said. "If the parent is a firearm owner, we should be talking to them about how to keep their child safe."  

"The intent of this legislation is to put a safeguard there to make sure that the Second Amendment rights and the privacy of South Carolinians are not trampled upon," said Putnam.

Putnam's bill is similar to one Floridians came to know as Docs vs. Glocks. It passed two years ago but didn't hold up to First Amendment challenges and could be repealed.

Putnam said his bill is meant to ensure physicians won't one day be required to turn over patient information that would be put into a kind of a federal gun owner database.

"We just don't want the citizens to go their physician and have something jotted down in notes and then that gets reported back to the federal government,"  he said.

"I would say that is totally ludicrous," said Greenhouse. "I do not document in my chart the number of guns in a household. I don't really care. I do mark that I counseled a family on firearm safety."

Putnam's bill would allow doctors to discuss guns if the patient were being treated for mental health purposes was in an abusive situation or if they'd already been shot.

According to Greenhouse, it's a slippery slope.

"Today it's Mr. Putnam saying I can't talk about gun safety," she said. "Tomorrow, it could be someone from big tobacco saying I can't talk about smoking cessation."

Putnam said he's fine with doctors handing out pamphlets on gun safety, but that in the exam room, doctors should focus only on the medicine.

Copyright 2013 WIS.  All rights reserved.

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